English II students at Swansea High School spent their first quarter exploring new and upcoming technologies and how they may impact humans in the present and in the future. Topics ranged from vertical farming and artificial meat to nanorobotics and artificial intelligence. Student Vanessa Sanchez Cazares stated, “I didn’t really know anything about gene altering. It’s amazing, really, but it’s kind of scary, too.” Many of the project topics, which were chosen by the students, required extensive research and insight into the future.
The unit theme, “Technology and the Human Spirit”, allowed students to reflect on current technological advancements that will impact their own lives, but also to explore technology that the next generation will be using. “I never realized how fast people develop new technology… some of it is amazing, but some of it could have really bad effects on people,” commented student Aaliyah Hayden. Students also included ethical issues related to their technology and how it should be monitored or controlled in the future.
Another aspect of this project included small-group presentations, which required the student presenters to create interactive elements for their audience. In other words, presenters had to ensure that their audience members stayed interested by including thoughtful and relevant activities during the presentation. “I am always impressed at how much reading and research students will do when they are interested in their topics. They’re creativity is also amazing,” says English teacher Laura Liger. Lauren Knight used Legos for building vertical farms and Justin Black created a game using images of “smart” house rooms. “It’s a win-win,” says Liger, “when both the presenter and audience members are engaged.”